Virgin Voyages announces new itineraries after Cuba travel ban
Sir Richard Branson (far right) with Captain Wendy Williams and Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages’ president and chief executive officer

Virgin Voyages has developed new itineraries after the US Government recently banned cruise lines from operating in Cuba.

The new cruise line from Sir Richard Branson featured Havana heavily in its debut programme before the Trump administration enforced restrictions on travel to the island earlier this month.

Virgin Voyages will now offer five-night Riviera Maya sailings to Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen in Mexico while its four-night sailings will become Fire and Sunset Soirées, which include a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.

Unique to the Fire and Sunset Soirées is a late-night bonfire party in Bimini with artistic fire installations. The exclusive event will be paired with a day of relaxation on the island.

New seven-night sailings for the 2020 festive holiday season have also been developed in response to demand for longer itineraries.

The Holidaze and Nights and New Year’s Ahoy voyages will fall over Christmas and New Year’s Eve respectively, and feature stops in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and late-night sail aways in Bimini and San Juan in Puerto Rico.

Richard-Branson-and-Captain-Wendy
Sir Richard Branson and Wendy Williams, the newly appointed captain of Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages has also announced its appointment of Wendy Williams as captain of new ship Scarlet Lady. She will become the first Canadian woman to captain a ship for a major cruise brand.

“Captain Wendy’s extensive maritime background makes her an excellent choice to lead the Scarlet Lady, but it is her spirit and drive to approach life at sea differently that make her the perfect fit to join the Virgin Voyages family,” said Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer for Virgin Voyages.

Williams has more than 28 years of experience working on ships at sea, with 15 years spent working on the bridge of cruise ships. Her role with Virgin Voyages will be her first promotion to captain of a cruise ship.

The cruise line revealed its Scarlet Squad programme last year in an effort to bridge the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry.

Alongside Captain Williams, Virgin Voyages has recruited nearly a dozen other female officers.

For more information on the cruise line, read our articles on Virgin Voyages’ partnership with Mark Ronson and Virgin Voyages’ rockstar suites.